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IFJ condemns spate of attacks on journalists

(IFJ/IFEX) - 9 November 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned a series of attacks which have targeted media over the last four days and called on Moroccan authorities to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice. Two Spanish journalists were assaulted as they covered the trial of seven Sahrawi activists in Casablanca while a group of armed people ransacked the regional bureau of the Moroccan public broadcaster in the Southern city of Layooune on Monday.

"The kind of violence meted out against journalists in the last few days has been shocking," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "It is unacceptable for the public to be venting their fury for political issues onto journalists."

Media reports say two Spanish reporters, Antonio Parra of Spanish TV channel, TVE and Edouardo Marin of Cadena SER, were set upon by some members of the public as they were taking photos at the trial of the seven activists of the separatist movement, the Polisario, at the tribunal of AïnSebaâ in Casablanca on Friday. The police intervened to escort them to safety but requested them to delete the photos, reports say adding that Moroccan officials have recently complained about the way Spanish media covered the country's affairs.

In a separate incident, the regional office of the regional branch of the Société Nationale de Radio Television (SNRT) in Layooune was attacked on Monday by a group of people armed with swords and knives. They vandalized the office's equipment and damaged two cars but journalists and employees managed to escape to safety. The attacks came amid clashes between Moroccan security forces and Sahrawi people in a camp set up nearly a month ago outside Laayoune as a protest by displaced Sahrawi people about their living conditions. At least five people have been killed in the clashes and dozens have been injured.

According to the information received by the Syndicat national de la presse marocaine (SNPM), an IFJ affiliate, from some journalists at the station, the attackers were carrying placards in favour of the Polisario Front which seeks independence of Western Sahara. The IFJ supports the SNPM which strongly condemned both attacks and called on the authorities to guarantee the protection of journalists working on the territory of the kingdom.

"We stand by our affiliate and the journalists' community in Morocco against violence and the targeting of media of any kind," added White. "The authorities must show zero tolerance for any form of intimidation against local and foreign reporters."

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